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Faith, The Link Between God & Man

Hello my dear friend! How are you all? I hope and pray everything is well. I’m so happy and grateful to God could have time post my own article. This is a re-post from a writing that I’ve posted in 2013.  According to my blog tagline “Living by faith”, once again this post is about faith. An explanation about faith in an interesting and unique way. When someone ask and tries to make us doubt about the God’s presence and His existence, faith plays important role is restoring our beliefs in God’s existence in our lives. Not too biblical but deep enough to go into substance of faith. The conversation between a professor and his student below refers to the following the Bible verses,

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

 

Professor: You are a Christian, aren’t you, son?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD?

Student: Absolutely, sir.

Professor: Is GOD good?

Student: Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful?

Student: Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

 (Student was silent)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Is Satan good?

Student: No.

Professor: Where does Satan come from?

Student: From . . . GOD . . .

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student: Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student: Yes.

Professor: So, who created evil?

 (Student did not answer)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student: Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them?

 (Student had no answer)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student: No, sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student: No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student: Yes.

Professor: According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student: Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student: Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student: And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student: No, sir. There isn’t.

 (The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events)

Student: Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, super heat, mega heat, white heat, a little    heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

 (There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater)

Student: What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student: You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, were you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So, what is the point you are making, young man?

Student: Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed? Can you explain how?

Student: Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student: Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

 (The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student: Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

 (The class was in uproar)

Student: Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

 (The class broke out into laughter)

Student: Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

 (The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student: That is it sir . . . Exactly! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

 By the way, that student was Einstein. 🙂

 

Karina – Living by faith.

Image source: Google Images

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Meaningful Life Under the Heavens (part 2) : WAITING FOR GOD CALLING (guest post)

In recent times, God has led me and my husband in experience and ministries related to life and death.  Among the many things that happened, there were two moments that really touched our hearts.

First Moment

That afternoon we went to the hospital to pray for a grandmother.  She is more than 90 years old.  Her extremely thin body lay weak with her eyes closed. The doctor can’t do much to help her.  Not only because the disease is very malignant and hasn’t been cured medically resolved, but also because her old body is unable to receive proper therapy and treatment for the disease.  After praying for her, we sang a simple song that talked about the love of Jesus. We sing softly over and over again. We believe that even though her eyes are closed, even if in a coma, her inner man can certainly hear our voices even though her physical body seems to not respond.  After a while, we saw tears flowing from the corner of her eye.  Her eyes still remained closed and between conscious and not, but the flowing tears showed that her heart responded.  We continued to sing and sing, until then the grandmother began to open her eyes and sing.  At first her voice was soft and sometimes the pronunciation wasn’t clear, but while we continued to sing the simple song over and over again, the longer her voice was louder. We knew, at that time God was working touching her heart and giving new strength.  Then we prayed once more, leading her to not be afraid and doubtful of surrendering to Jesus, guiding her to make a confession that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  After being prayed for, she could sleep well and no longer be delirious about frightening things that were invisible as she had always seen the previous nights.  We believe that God gave her peace that transcends all understanding, beyond fear about everything she would leave behind or she would face in life after death.  The peace from God is a guarantee and an inward witness that she is safe in the Father’s hands.  A few days later we heard the news that the grandmother had calmly returned to the Father’s house.  Indeed, whatever we have been achieved in this life, ultimately the most important thing is the certainty of salvation in eternal life.

Second Moment

Near midnight a few days ago, we were shocked by the news.  One friend who has served with us for almost 30 years has suddenly been called home by God.  He was still around 55 years old.  He was sitting and chatting with his family when suddenly he bowed and left forever.  Many people could hardly believe because only two or three days earlier he had served with us at a big event.  Our hearts were moved, as if God were waiting for him to finish his task until the event was finished and then called him home.  What a sweet impression.

But … reality isn’t always like that right?  In fact, there are people even God’s servants who are called home by God when they are actively working on God’s vision and mission.  In the view of humans as if their task isn’t finished, but we are uncertain.  God has His own judgment and that is perfect. Whatever it is, death is always unpredictable, incomprehensible.  The measure isn’t t age, health, ministry, not even a person’s good or evil. What, why and how, only God knows.

ACCOMPLISHING TASKS

Indeed, each of us is waiting for the time to be called by God.  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 clearly says that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die (Meaningful Life under the Heavens – click here).  Every one of us has a period we don’t know when it will end. Each of us has a deadline that we don’t know when.  God can call us anytime, anywhere, in any way.  Now … as people waiting to be called by God, there are important questions that each of us must reflect on and answer it.

Are we ready whenever our lifespan runs out?  Are we sure of our eternal destination in life after death? Have we received eternal salvation from God?  Have we been living our lives according to God’s will?  How much time do we use to do God’s work, and how much time do we waste in vain?  What should we do while we wait for God to call us??  The preacher advises us:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV)

The word “to do” comes from the Hebrew word “asah” which means accomplish that is “to finish something successfully or to achieve something”.  So, God asks us not only to do it but to accomplish it and to achieve what is supposed to be achieved.

The word “your might” comes from the Hebrew word “koach” which means “ability” which is “the mental or physical power or skill needed to do something”.  So, the word “your might” here is not doing on our own and carelessly, but works with the physical, mental, and certain skills needed to accomplish the task.

We weren’t created by accident.  Conscious or not, we are created with a purpose.  In our hands is being entrusted with a special mission, a life that doesn’t follow where the flow brings, but is in a plan to do God’s work for His Kingdom.  Therefore don’t ignore things that seem to come to our lives naturally or even coincidentally, that is, all the forms that the preacher calls as working, planning, knowledge and wisdom.  Whatever forms these things have in our lives, our task is to accomplish it.  For this reason, God has provided the equipment we need, namely mental, physical, and skill.  But mental readiness, physical strength, and skill aren’t things that fall from the sky.  God gave it for free, yes that’s true because God is the source, but we also have to study, train, and develop it.  This isn’t for the sake of our careers will increase so that our future will be better or that we be rewarded as smart people who are multi-talented, but to achieve and accomplish what is God’s purpose in our lives.

This life is a sure wait for God’s call to eternity.  We must be ready whenever the time comes.  Let us not be complacent with all the hustle and bustle of our busy life, but focus on what is God’s will in our lives.  As long as we continue to be faithful and diligent in doing everything that God allows in our lives by using every power provided by God, our lives aren’t in vain.  We will have a meaningful life.  At least we have tried earnestly to do God’s will.  Most importantly, make sure that we have believe in Jesus as our only Lord and Savior.  Make sure that we always make God as our Shepherd.  Only He is the Helper, Guardian, Leader and Guide who can guarantee us to arrive at the house of the eternal Father and stay with the Father forever.

“The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me],  I shall not want. . . . Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever [throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord.” (Psalm 23 AMP)

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pixabay.com ) edited with pixlr apps

MEANINGFUL LIFE UNDER THE HEAVENS (guest post)

Centuries ago, a wise teacher conveyed his reflection on the meaning of life.  In his writings classified as wisdom literature, the Teacher said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2 NIV)  Yes, the time for birth is the beginning of a human being under the sky. But this isn’t an endless journey.  There is a time limit that no one can reject, namely the time to die.  Among these two phases, humans live a life full of color and dynamics.  Humans work, study, have fun, work, enjoy happiness, partying, prosperity, success, but in it there is also pain, loneliness, pain, poverty, destruction, and experiencing injustice.  All can come at any time, to anyone, whether they deserve it or not.  About all of that, the Teacher who was rich, powerful, and had the potential and opportunity to enjoy everything available in the world, gave his skeptical views: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2 NIV)  Then, about the various things that humans do throughout their lives under heavens, the Teacher concluded pessimistically that all these things are “chasing after the wind.”  What does that mean?

 

HEBEL, HEBEL, HEBEL

Hebel, a Hebrew word which in some copies translates as vanity, meaningless, futility, is a word that is repeated 37-38 times in Ecclesiastes.  Hebel, a word that means “through the breath, a breeze, a smoke, water vapor” is a very appropriate word to describe how short human life is.  Whether living for 30, 50, 60, 70, 90, or 100 years, all is like a single breath compared to limitless time, namely eternity, where every human being will go.

Hebel is the same word that is also used in Psalm 39: 4-6.  “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.  Selah.  Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they [b]busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches,  And does not know who will gather them.” (NKJV)

As with the Teacher, the Psalmist also viewed human life as “hebel”.  Very short, as a flash of shadow passed.  Contemplate … how briefly it can be finally be truly in vain if man only seeks satisfaction and the meaning of his life from what is transitory and temporary!  Then, what is the benefit of grandeur and pride under heaven, if in the end all things that are painstakingly pursued and maintained must be abandoned, and not contribute anything to eternity.  Up to this point, it is perfectly appropriate for the Teacher to describe it as vanity and chasing after the wind.  Then, how should humans go through life so that they aren’t trapped in a vortex of futility and a chasing after the wind?

 

CHRIST BE THE CENTER OF LIFE

The teacher doesn’t mean to say that human life is meaningless and useless, but that is what will happen if humans live their lives in their own way and do good things according to their own thoughts, without really seeking God.  Therefore, let’s return to the Teacher’s statement about the time for humans under heaven: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”  This statement shows that God has full power and sovereignty over everything, including determining the time of birth and death of everyone, without humans being able to choose for themselves.  However, between birth and death there is a period of time in which humans live their lives and in this life humans are given free will to determine their own choices, including those relating to relationships with God.

Praise God the Father, if at one moment we have made the decision to receive salvation in Jesus Christ.  It is grace that has transformed our status into a child of God and made a significant difference to our entire life.  When we accept Jesus Christ, at that time there is also a displacement of purpose in eternity, namely from death to life, from curse to blessing, from vanity to the divine vocation.  Faith in Christ is a step that immediately puts us on the path of grace which provides unlimited power and opens opportunities for us to do noble things that are eternal, according to God’s time and determination.

The power has been given by God, His help is available, but how the outcome depends on how we live our lives, whether we really make Christ the center of our lives or not.  Making Christ the center of our lives means making Christ the only foundation, source, goal and motivation, which controls all our thoughts, actions and attitudes in all aspects of life.  The sincerity of making Christ the center of our lives will be reflected in every choice of our response to everything that God has permitted to happen throughout our lives.  Whether we obey the desires of the flesh or the will of the Holy Spirit, obey our feelings or obey to do the word of God, continue to believe or be disappointed with God, and remain faithful to the end or leave God.  In the end, the choice for choice will determine the life we ​​live in, in vain or produce fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Later, we must give accountability before God.

 

ENJOY LIFE IN THE FEAR OF GOD

” Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 NIV)

Actually, this whole life journey is a preparation for an inevitable responsibility, which must be faced by each person, personally.  Later, there is no reason and defense for every sin and mistake, because God has given us a lifetime opportunity to repent, be changed and shaped by God.  Therefore we must truly live right before God, because all of our responses to God when we are still alive today greatly determine how and where we will be in eternity.  God has bestowed salvation, given the Holy Spirit as Helper and Comforter, and has given the word that becomes the guide and contains the promises we need.  We just have to always live in fear of God.  Not fear of His judgment, but fear of God because we love and respect God.  So, we will be able to see and respond to this life properly so that we can receive and enjoy what God has provided in our lives with satisfaction and gratitude.  Thus, our focus isn’t on the pleasures of this world, but on God who gives everything.  As the Teacher’s advice: “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5: 18-19 NIV) 

Life isn’t easy, maybe we have done wrong and failed many times, but as long as we wholeheartedly want to surrender ourselves to God, then God will help us rise again and again.  His love always forgives and His power certainly strengthens and enables us to live according to His purpose and plan, so that our lives and labors aren’t in vain.  Then later … when we stand face to face with God to account for our every act, we will look at the face of Jesus Christ without feeling accused, but with relief and gratitude because God has made our lives meaningful.  Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images ( pixabay.com ) edited with pixlr apps

FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE (guest post)

In the middle of February, my husband and I ministered to a city that’s quite far from our city. We drove on the highway along 780 km, across three provinces and around 20 big and small cities. It was really fun. Then on Sunday afternoon we traveled home after two days of service. The highway was wide and quiet, the sun was bright, so perfect. But we cannot continue to enjoy that comfort. Half the trip had passed when we saw a thick lump of black cloud covering the sky in front of us. The color of the black clouds with the golden glow of dusk showed contrasting scene. Beautiful but also frightening! Moments after I captured it with a cellular camera, apparently our car began to enter the area under the black cloud. The rain immediately flushed and the longer the more heavy accompanied by strong winds. The heavy rain, the strong winds, and the darkness of the night, made our visibility very limited. A comfortable journey turned to full of suspense.

The lighting on the highway that we passed is only at the interchange, namely in the area before and after the gate of highway. Along the rest of the road there are only traffic signs and small plates at a certain distance that function as reflectors. The yellow reflector on the guardrail separates our lane from the opposite direction, and the red reflector on the guardrail on the edge of the highway. For hours traveling in the dark night accompanied by the roar of the rain and strong winds we only relied on traffic signs and luminescence from the reflectors that reflected the lights of our cars. And even then only a few meters, limited to the distance of the lights of our car. Those points of light were the guide for us, whether the road we are going through will turn left, right, straight, down, or uphill. Meanwhile, our windshield wipers were competing with the rain that forms a kind of water curtain covered the windshield, making the view more blurred. Many times we have to lean forward so we can see the signs and the road more clearly. We must pay attention to and ensure that we follow each sign directions correctly because a little mistake make us misdirected.

OBEDIENCE THAT BRINGS TO THE AIM

For me, the situation we experienced at that time described a phase in the journey of life. There are times when everything goes very pleasant, comfortable, safe, easy, and smooth. There is also a time when problems come, like clouds cover the sun and change the light to dark. That is the dynamics of life that can be experienced by anyone, whether in extreme forms or only wavelet.

The characters in the Bible also experience times when they have to walk in dark valleys. Moses, a Hebrew who was educated and lived in the palace of Pharaoh, had experienced the phase of becoming a fugitive and had to live in the house of a priest in the land of Midian for fear of being killed by Pharaoh (Ex 2: 11-22). Joseph, a favorite son who was given a tunic of many colors by his father, also experienced several times the ups and downs of the dynamics of life. Starting from being dumped to a well and sold to Egypt, then got a position as a trustee of Potiphar, but then being imprisoned for being slandered (Gen. 37: 12-36; Gen. 39). David, a worshiper of the Lord, experienced the extreme dynamics of life from a sheep shepherd who was suddenly anointed to become king, then became the person trusted by King Saul. But then the situation changes. David became Saul’s main enemy until he had lived on the run for several years (1 Samuel 16-30). Then when he became king as God promised, there was a treason led by his own son until he had to flee from his palace (2 Sam 15-17). Those are three of the many stories of the characters in the Bible. Their experiences differ from one another but there is one common thread, namely obedience. They were people who remain obedient to follow the guidance of God even though they are under pressure. They didn’t deviate from the provisions of God, didn’t compromise with sin, and remain faithful to do what is right in the midst of their plight. In the end, it obedience brought them into fulfillment of God’s plan and made them reach the finish line brilliantly.

God has a special plan for each of us and He has provided everything needed so that we can work on His call, but it can only be realized if we obey Him.

Obeying God’s guidance in the midst of dark times has its own difficulties. Like walking in the rain on a dark night, heavy pressure can make us unable to see everything clearly because we panic, worry, fear, stress, depression. Our feelings become uneasy so it is difficult to pray. The desire to get out of trouble quickly makes us impatient waiting for God’s help. These various psychological conditions can make our spiritual eyes unable to see clearly and our spiritual ears become insensitive. We can be tempted to take shortcuts and seek help in our own way. When we finally choose to follow our own will, we will be misguided, because what we think is good is not necessarily good and what we think is right is not necessarily true.

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NIV)

Solving problems in our own way at first often seems successful but we don’t know what will happen at the end of the road. Obeying God’s guidance is the only way if we don’t want to get lost and regret later on. Knowing God’s guidance isn’t complicated. God has provided complete guidance for us, namely the Bible. The Bible is the written word of God. Following God’s guidance means doing what is written in the Bible.

 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” (Psalm 119:105-106 NIV)

“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:129-130 NIV)

The Word of God is like a traffic sign that shows direction and is like a light that illuminates our path. If our lives are on a dark road, just do what the Bible says even though it’s not directly related to the problem we are facing. Obedience to God’s word will make us smarter, wiser, and more understanding, even beyond knowledgeable and experienced people.

“Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers,  for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders,  for I obey your precepts.” (Psalm 119:98-100 NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV)

We really don’t know the whole of our journey. Be obedient, because every obedience to the word of God will take us step by step to the way out of our struggle. The wisdom and understanding that comes from God through His word will enable us to view problems with the right perceptions so that we can make the right decisions. Moreover, every obedience to the word of God will change us day by day to become more and more like Christ.

BELIEVE IN GOD

We cannot totally obey Him if we don’t believe in Him.

Moses, Joseph, and David were people who obeyed God’s guidance because they were believe in God. Moses could have kept hiding and refused to be sent by God to meet Pharaoh, but Moses chose to obey. Moses obediently worked on God’s call to lead millions of Israelites across the desert with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. When the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire stop, he stops. Where the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire move, there he follows. Joseph could have complied with the wishes of Potiphar’s wife, but he chose to run away from her because he knew that it is sin. Joseph also had the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers who had made him suffer, but instead he gave them a place to live and fulfill their needs because he knew that God had a special plan for his life in Egypt. David had more than one chance to kill Saul, but David did not want to do it. Actually, if he killed Saul, he would easily occupy the position of king, but he chose patiently to wait for God’s time.

Moses, Joseph, David, and the people used by God in the Bible are people who fully believe in God. They don’t put their secure feelings into the situation. They don’t entrust their future to experiences, skills, connections, position and wealth. They don’t make decisions based on their own passions and considerations, but they follow God’s guidance even though sometimes for a moment it seems that their obedience doesn’t make things better. They still believe in God and rely on God in all circumstances, good or bad.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we are in a bad situation, remember what David did when he was greatly distressed in Ziklag: “David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (1 Sam 30:6 NIV). Let’s strengthen our trust in God. Not with our own strength but with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable us to faithfully step in to follow God’s guidance. Not only until we get a way out of our problems, but until the end of our lives. Amen.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

NOT TO RULE BUT TO SERVE (Guest Post)

 

Realizing or not, humans love to be respected, appreciated, and even feared by others. In varying degrees, there is satisfaction when humans are able to rule and control others, whether with charisma or with the authority they have. Some people sincerely want to be a blessing to others, but others pursue a certain position to fulfill their needs for influence and power. There are also those who initially start leadership with the right motivation, but feeling satisfied and comfortable when respected and served, can slowly shift their sincerity and humility into pride. Accustomed to being respected by others can make us assume ourselves higher than others if we don’t take care of our hearts.

Leadership in the church isn’t immune to such attitudes. As leaders at any level in ecclesiastical ministry, we must remain vigilant so as not to fall into arrogance which could be changes our hearts from the heart of a Christ’s servant to the heart of a ruler. On the other hand, as a church congregation we should not put too much admiration and hope on our spiritual leaders so that we don’t fall into the sin of idolatry. As great as our spiritual leaders, God must accept the highest admiration from us and God must be the only source of our hope. Because what makes our leaders great isn’t their ability but the power of the Holy Spirit that works within them.

TO BE A SERVANT AND A SLAVE

In Matthew 20: 20-28, once James’ mother and John’s mother made a request to Jesus that Jesus give their children a position on His right and left in His Kingdom. In other words, they want to be given a power to rule. Lord Jesus gave a very interesting answer using a comparison of TWO TERMS:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT,

and whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE—

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”(Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

There are TWO COMPARISONS in the statement of the Lord Jesus: 1) whoever WANTS to become GREAT among you MUST BE your SERVANT, and 2) whoever WANTS to be FIRST MUST BE your SLAVE.

In the first comparison: “GREAT” refers to people who are influential and have certain powers within a certain scope. And “SERVANT” in the original language uses the word “DIAKONOS” which means people who are in charge of serving or emphasizing humility to serve others.

In the second comparison: “FIRST” refers to a person with the highest position, occupying the most important or most respected position. “SLAVE” in the original language uses the word “DOULOS” which means metaphorically someone who is completely under the will and authority of others.

If we paraphrase, this is what Jesus’ said: “He who wants to be a great or powerful and influential person must become a servant who always serves the needs of others, and whoever wants to be the most respected and highest position he must surrender himself to become a slave who willingly places himself to do the will of his master.”

Note that the HIGHER a position someone wants to achieve, the LOWER he must position himself! This is the principle of leadership in the Kingdom of God.

HUMILITY COMES BEFORE HONOR

“Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12 NIV)

Humility comes before honor. This principle cannot be reversed. If we pursue honor without first learning to humble ourselves, then we will become authoritarian leaders and don’t respect others. It’s not impossible in the end we also don’t respect God. God doesn’t set us to be leaders and then we must be willing to serve others. Not like that. But, the first we are a servant of Christ then He calls us to be a leader: We are a servant of Christ who called as leaders.

The proof of humility comes before honor is the Lord Jesus himself:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and TOOK ON THE STATUS OF A SLAVE (DOULOS), became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (Philippians 2:5-8 The Message)

The Lord Jesus humbled himself and was willing to position himself as a slave who was subject to the will of the Father to die on the Cross. The result is that Jesus was greatly exalted by God the Father:

“Therefore GOD EXALTED HIM TO THE HIGHEST PLACE  and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV)

The last sentence is really interesting. Paul, an apostle who led and anointed by the Holy Spirit to write a large part of the New Testament, stated that the Lord Jesus was exalted not for the glory of Jesus himself, but for the Glory of God, the Father. This kind of humility is what we must have. Whatever achievements and successes we reach out, we must always return all praises to the glory of God the Father, not take credit points for ourselves!

SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

Like the Lord Jesus who humbly took on the status of a slave (doulos) who was willing to surrender himself to carry out the will of the Father, so we are.

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become SLAVES (DOULOS) TO RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Romans 6:17-18 NIV)

We have been redeemed from sin and paid in full through His sacrifice. We no longer have the right to live for ourselves, but we must be “a slaves to the righteousness” namely “slaves” who are fully obedient to do all the word of God which is the highest truth. Being a slave to the righteousness means we always crucify our flesh, including our pride and selfishness, to always submit to the will of Christ. Only by continuing to submit to Christ, we are continually processed and trained to be humble so that we can serve God and others according to His commands. Thus we can become leaders in accordance with the standards of God’s Kingdom, that is NOT TO RULE, BUT TO SERVE!

The road to humility isn’t easy and unpopular. Often we have to be willing to take off our “robe of greatness” then wrap a towel to our waist to wash our fellow feet. We can no longer say “Here I am, look at me”, but must always be humble ourselves and say “All glory to God the Father”.

May this Lord’s message to the Philippians also speak strongly in our hearts: Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)

 

AMEN

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: Google Images (edited with pixlr apps)

To Be a Real Player

In December ago I watched a Christmas concert video where one of the performer is my little foster sister, Sandra. I  very impressed and proud to see him sitting in  the front of grand piano playing a classical Christmas repertoire accompanied by an orchestra. Elegantly her fingers danced swiftly on the piano keys. While I watched Sandra on the stage, I remembered when she was under 17, I often took her to watch music concerts. She was interested in music especially classical music. I still remember when we were watching a concert, I whispered to her, “Someday you’re not only sit as audience but you must sit on the stage as a player” she replied firmly, “Yes! I must…!”

Now Sandra has proven her words a few years ago, now she has moved from the viewer to be the real player. Sandra is in the right position according to her life passion. She once said, “I’m truly believe that what I chose is a call! God’s call! And I have to fulfilled His call to get into the music world to glorify His name and I wanted God make me a blessing”

My dear readers, through Sandra’s story, I want to ask all of us to reflect something important in Christian life. In our spiritual life, as Christian, Where is our position now? Are we in the position as audience or player? Do we have longing and passion to become a real doer of God’s word bring salt and light through our own call? Do we only accept God’s blessing for ourselves without any longing to share God’s Blessing and be a blessing to others? Sadly, in our daily lives, there’s fact that many Christians are only satisfied to sit as audience rather than active take a role directly doing the God’s word. They have hundreds of reasons to refuse if invited to participate in doing God’s work through Christian ministry. Feel incapable, have no time, busy working, shame, and many other reasons that obstruct them to be real doers of God’s word.

I think of one thing, how we can declare God’s light to the world if many Christians become a passive Christian and just being audience and enjoy God’s blessings? Then what about the great commission that ordered by Jesus? Can we fulfills Jesus’ command that we have to

“go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you… (Matthew 28:18-20) whether only a few people are burdened to accept God’s call to serve Him? No! God doesn’t call only few people but all of us who believe in Him. We all are the chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and we all are God’s special possession… (1 Peter 2:9)  

My beloved friends, allow me to interpret that verse word by word. “Nation” Nation means the whole people who believe in God and called as God’s child. The word of Nation don’t refer to the certain individuals or groups. Next, “the chosen people” it means not only me or you but the entire people who lives in God have a great honor for being chosen by God. Further, “a royal priesthood” Royal priesthood is a title given by God to us. It means in the eye of God we all are priests who serve the King. God gave us that title with one purpose, namely to call us to proclaim God’s great deed actively through testimonies of His work in our lives and eventually the all of nations become His disciples. Imagine how ridiculous if someone who has title as the “Royal Priesthood” or priests who serve the king just sat watching from distance without doing anything. So Let us always remember our Identity. We’re honorable people because God chose us, we are the royal priesthood that called to carry out God’s duties and command.

Now, what if we already have longing to fulfill God’s call and decided not just as an audience but take real actions to do what commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 but we feel don’t have enough ability to take a part in ministry. Well, honestly these things often become a reason and obstacle when we want to start serving God. My beloved readers, actually God has given us different gift and at least there is one gift that we can use to server God and others. It’s written in 1 Peter 4:10,

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

So I think there’s no reason for us not serve God just because we feel have no ability. God has prepared us with certain ability. Therefore, let us use the gift from God to play a role serve Him and others.

 Another obstacle is, many people in their first step already afraid and worry will get many difficulties and problems. Actually, I must admit, based on my own experience, being involved in a ministry isn’t easy. We will find many problems. But…! There’s one thing that we have to know, Please know this, when God ask us to do His Command, in fact, He already preparing us so we’re able to carry out His duties.  God also has provided all things we need.  Let’s take a look to this verses,

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

See, God already gives us power to make us able to be Christ’s witnesses wherever we are even to the ends of the earth. Moreover, God not only gives us power but He also promises to always be with us wherever we go. He promises,

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”(Genesis 28:15)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Besides being with us, when we’re in trouble God also always gives us comfort. He said,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

My beloved readers, at the end of this post I invite all of us to reflect on one thing. As a chosen people who was given the title of royal Priesthood, where is our position now? Have we done the great message that has been given to us?have we pick up the cross and proclaim the truth of God’s word to people who don’t know God? In this early year, please allow me to challenge all of us to take a real action to fulfill God’s call to serve Him. Fulfilling God’s call and serve Him doesn’t always have to be a pastor, church worker, or other position in the church but can be done in accordance with our own gift and where we are. A simple example, if we are in the office and we have gift to encourage, let’s give encouragement to those in need.

Let’s prepare ourselves to get involved in God’s work. Stop doing nothing. Please remember what Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) There are so many people need to be saved out there but none of that will happen if only a few people are burdened to proclaim the message of salvation from God and the great commission that written in Matthew 28:18-20 will not be fulfilled. Jesus reminds that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) And because we are the light Jesus also asking us: “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16) But once again, the light will not shine and be seen by others if we just keep silent don’t do something so that the light shines.

If now my little foster sister, Sandra, is able to show how beautiful the music works of Mozart, this is the right moment for all of us to begin take concrete actions to show how great God’s work in this world and how beautiful God’s love for this world.  Let the title of the royal priesthood not just a designation but can be accounted for through our concrete actions as ambassadors the Kingdom of God. It’s time for us to go out of the box, time to play our part on the stage of Christian ministry, time to go and do something real. Are we ready? Amen.

Karina – Living by faith

Thank you very much to Sister Lisa Blair at https://lisasdailyinspirations.com/

Image source: gracecalvarychapel.org

BECOME A NEW CREATION (guest post)

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. (Jeremiah 13:23 NIV)

The physical characteristics of living things in a species are inherited traits inherited from genetic factors. We can’t change it like if we take off our clothes and then replace them with other different clothes. God used this analogy when rebuking the people of Judah. In the eyes of God, like a leopard can’t change its spots, so the people of Judah who are accustomed to doing evil can’t do good. This very strong rebuke was delivered through the prophet Jeremiah in the years before Judah fell to the king of Babylon who later took them into exile for 70 years.

During the time of Jeremiah, sin was rooted in the daily lives of the people of Judah. They lived in sin and carried out various forms of idol worship, even killing their children in sacrificial rituals to the gods. When King Josiah called for national repentance in Judah, they did return sacrifices to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but they didn’t completely abandon their sins. Sin has colored the entire area of life and controlled their hearts, so God said:  “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars…” (Jeremiah 17:1-2 ESV).

Sin has been carved so deeply in the hearts of God’s chosen people. Such a condition of the heart will not be formed only because it is a sinful thing, but it is the result of a process that continues to be repeated. Jeremiah 13:23 clearly says that they are accustomed to doing evil. The word “accustomed to” in Hebrew, the original language of the Old Testament, also means “taught, learned, discipled”. The word comes from words that mean “to learn, to teach, exercise in, be trained”. Even in some variants of the Bible, that word is translated as “diligently, expert, skilful, teachers”. Seeing the original meaning, the phrase “accustomed to doing evil” means they are not only occasional or sometimes fall into sin, but there is a continuous repetition that may be intentional, which to a certain extent makes them expert, skilful, and trained in sin or that evil deed.

The same thing can happen to us. When we fall into sin, then “the alarm” of the Holy Spirit will be heard loudly in our conscience, making us aware of mistakes, asking for forgiveness, and arising from our sins. When we repeat the same sin again and again and again, then slowly but surely we will begin to ignore God’s rebuke, then our consciences begin to be torpid and insensitive.

The more we repeat the same sin, we will become more proficient in committing that sin, which will surely lead us to other sins! This is the same as we train and discipline ourselves to sin until it becomes a habit and our whole life is controlled by it. To some extent we may not feel the sinful act as something wrong because we have experienced moral degradation and a very severe spiritual deterioration!

REPENTANCE

There is no way out of sin other than repentance. That was what Jeremiah called upon many times to the people of Judah. Unfortunately they didn’t respond as they should until finally God’s punishment struck them. If at present some of us are still bound by sin, I pray that the Holy Spirit will realize that we need repentance. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8 ESV).

Like how sin begins to take root in our hearts that is because we train ourselves to doing evil, then we also have to do the opposite in the same way if we really want to repent. We must train ourselves to do the truth by disciplining ourselves constantly to live in obedience to God. This must continue to be done because as long as we are still breathing, in us there will always be an attraction between the desires of the flesh and the desire of the Spirit.

As believers who are still proceeding to be like Christ, we can still fall into sin if we don’t take care of our hearts. But there is a fundamental difference with our previous condition, that we are no longer a servant of sin but we have the power to win over sin because the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

STAY IN THE TRUE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY

Training and discipline to live obediently to the word of God requires perseverance and fortitude because we live in a world where some of the values are contrary to the Bible. Every time we are faced with reality, hear various news, and interact with people of different characters. Directly or not, it can influence or even shape us. In our topic this time, the tribe of Judah is a clear example of how environment and association have transformed them into sinners and idolaters. Long before Joshua had warned them about it: “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12-13 NIV).

We must not isolate ourselves from the world because we are sent to be salt and light in the midst of this world. What we have to do is be wise in choosing relationships and communities, because: Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt {and} deprave good manners {and} morals {and} character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 AMP)  How the influence of an association is very serious for our lives. Therefore we must pray a lot, read and do the word of God, and live in the true spiritual community. Thus we can grow spiritually so that we are not easily swayed by world values, and have brothers and sisters who rebuke if we start to deviate and strengthen if we start to weaken.

KNOW CHRIST PERSONALLY

Repentance is the right first step. A true association will prevent us from bad influences. But, one of the most important things that become our strength is to experience and know Christ personally.

The tribe of Judah in Jeremiah’s day didn’t lack “information” of God. They heard the story of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob freed their ancestors from slavery in Egypt, kept them in the wilderness, and led their ancestors into the Land of Canaan. They heard the story of various miraculous deeds done by God. But unfortunately all of that is just “a story about God” that they heard from generation to generation, but they themselves didn’t experience it. They didn’t know God personally because they have never met God personally. As a result they become easily misled and turn away from God.

We can hear many sermons and hear various testimonies from people who experience God’s help. We can read many books about Christianity or even read the Bible. But without experiencing and knowing God personally, all that will only be information for our brain, like we hear stories, read news, or watch movies. Every Christian must meet the Lord Jesus personally and continue to learn to know Him. The more we know Him, the easier it is to trust Him and obey Him without being suspicious. Every step of obedience will take us one step closer to becoming more and more like Him.

CHANGED TO BE A NEW CREATION

Originating from the same seed of life, a caterpillar that for some people looks disgusting can transform into a beautiful butterfly that flies elegantly. The colors of butterflies are not costumes and their graceful wings are not accessories, but a permanent change that can only be realized through a process of change from within.

Now, if the same question is presented to us: “Can we do good if we have previously used to do evil?” YES, WE CAN !!! In what way? By becoming a new creation in Christ: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

No matter how dark our past is, no matter how deep we fall into sin, God must forgive and restore us if we want to come to Him. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) and Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

The important thing after we are forgiven is not to commit sin again. We must intentionally place ourselves in a spiritual community (church) that can encourage our spiritual growth so that we are stronger in facing challenges and still standing firm even though we have to go against the flow!

Repentance is not just a moment of confession, but requires our commitment to continue to live in that conversion.

Repentance is not a make-up to correct deficiencies or accessories to beautify the appearance, nor is the disguise mask so that we are not recognized.

Repentance is a complete change from within that encourages us to behave contrary to before.

If then our old environment does not recognize us anymore because we are no longer the same person, it is not because we turn into someone else’s person but because we are restored by God to be our supposed selves, that is, humans who are created like and similar to Himself and to do His works.

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

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